My Experience at the Holy Water Temple in Bali

On my trip to Bali for my Yoga Teacher Training, we had 3 Sunday’s off. On one of them, we did a day trip to the Holy Water Temple, a coffee plantation and to visit Ubud. While the day was jam-packed and exhausting, it was such an amazing day.

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We started the day at Tirta Empul, otherwise known as the Holy Water Temple. It is supposedly one of the largest and busiest water temples in Indonesia. The temple was founded in 926 A.D. and is dedicated to Vishnu, who is the Hindu god of water. The name of the temple means ‘holy water spring’ in Balinese. While popular with tourists we were definitely outnumbered by locals.

We had the blessing of being taken care of all day by Degus (otherwise known as D), a local Balinese man, who was so kind explaining Balinese culture to us and showing us around.

We arrived at the temple and were given sarongs as you needed to wear one to enter the temple. After a prayer in the courtyard, we were lead to the locker area and changed into a different sarong.

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Degus’s mom made everyone offerings. The offering consists of a basket woven from palm tree branches and you’ll find beautiful flowers, maybe a piece of candy and incense within.

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We were lead into the inner pool area and were instructed to place our offerings on an alter with our intention for the ritual in mind.

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Before entering the temple, D told us to set an intention for the experience. Think of it as a thought, a wish, or a prayer.

We sat on a small area and D led us through a Hindu prayer before entering the pool and getting in line behind the many Balinese. There was three steps to each fountain. We were told to lift our hands in prayer at our forehead and think of our intention. It is believed that the holy water – “tirta” – removes evil spirits, brings prosperity and cleanses the body and the soul.

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From there we were instructed to splash our face three times. Once to cleanse our body, once to cleanse our soul and I can’t for the life of me remember what the third one symbolized. My understanding from doing a little more internet research is that it’s also done three times because in the Hindu faith they pray to three gods, Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva.

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From there you dunk yourself under the fountain for protection and prosperity.

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I chose 2 intentions that I repeated through each fountain. One for myself and one for my family.

While it was so amazing to experience a Balinese Hindu cultural and religious experience it was very foreign to me as a Christian. While I was there I didn’t want to disrespect those around me by not believing in what they believed in and I didn’t want to disrespect my faith and my God by participating in something outside of our belief system.

In the end I believe having an intention and a prayer for one’s life is universal. The experience was absolutely magical and we felt so welcomed into the Balinese world that I don’t think anyone felt like an outsider or an intruder. We respectfully followed traditions, learned something new and experienced something that many may never get to experience.

It is a definite must visit if you find yourself in Bali 🙂

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